S.C. Demo­cratic Party chief presses red-state hope with DNC bid.

Touts ex­pe­ri­ence, skills to be chair­man of DNC

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY SETH MCLAUGHLIN — Jaime Har­ri­son

Jaime Har­ri­son says the ex­pe­ri­ence he has gained as head of the South Carolina Demo­cratic Party and a Capi­tol Hill in­sider be­fore that has pro­vided him with a unique per­spec­tive on how to get the na­tional party back to win­ning af­ter a chal­leng­ing elec­tion cy­cle.

Mr. Har­ri­son said the skills he has de­vel­oped could give him an edge in the race against Rep. Keith El­li­son of Min­nesota and New Hamp­shire Chair­man Ray­mond Buck­ley to be­come chair­man of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee.

La­bor Sec­re­tary Thomas E. Perez is ex­pected to en­ter the race as early as Thurs­day.

“I am the only one in the race that has the un­der­stand­ing of how D.C. op­er­ates and the lead­ers there, but at the same time I have been op­er­a­tive on the front lines try­ing to re­build a party in a red state,” Mr. Har­ri­son told The Wash­ing­ton Times this week.

Be­fore be­com­ing the state’s first black Demo­cratic Party chair­man in 2013, Mr. Har­ri­son worked for Rep. James E. Cly­burn of South Carolina, the third-rank­ing Demo­crat in the House, and as a lob­by­ist at the Podesta Group, which was co-founded by John Podesta, chair­man of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s failed pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

As chair­man, Mr. Har­ri­son said, he has sought to strengthen ties be­tween lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and South Carolina Democrats and to de­velop a gen­er­a­tion of Demo­cratic lead­ers through a fel­low­ship pro­gram — named af­ter Mr. Cly­burn — that trains new­com­ers to op­er­ate cam­paigns or run for of­fice.

“It is go­ing to be a fun­da­men­tal game-changer go­ing for­ward here in South Carolina be­cause we have a ton of young peo­ple [in­volved] who were not on our radar,” he said. “I think if we repli­cated it all across the coun­try, it would be tremen­dous in terms of build­ing up our bench in many parts of th­ese states.”

Mr. El­li­son, mean­while, got a boost Wed­nes­day when New York Mayor Bill de Bla­sio pledged his sup­port, adding to his list of pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal al­lies — in­clud­ing the AFL-CIO and in­com­ing Senate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

Lib­er­als in­clud­ing Sens. El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts and Bernard San­ders of Ver­mont ap­peared at a fo­rum Wed­nes­day to sup­port Mr. El­li­son.

Still, Mr. El­li­son’s cam­paign has had some stum­bles, fu­el­ing calls for Mr. Perez to run and open­ing the door for DNC mem­bers to take a good look at Mr. Buck­ley and Mr. Har­ri­son.

Mr. Cly­burn told his col­leagues that Mr. Har­ri­son “has the ex­pe­ri­ence, vi­sion, and com­mit­ment to re­build our party and to re­turn us to vic­tory on na­tional, state and lo­cal lev­els.”

Mr. Har­ri­son told The Times that his path to vic­tory de­pends in large part on win­ning the sup­port of DNC mem­bers from states that helped power Don­ald Trump to vic­tory last month.

“We are go­ing to pull a coali­tion from the South­ern states and some fly­over states,” he said, adding that he hopes to com­ple­ment that back­ing with sup­port from his friends from coastal states.

Mr. Har­ri­son said part of his plan is to in­vest more in state par­ties in red states. He said the $7,500 doled out an­nu­ally is not enough.

“In a ruby-red state, say you take an Ok­la­homa or an Idaho, where Repub­li­cans con­trol ev­ery­thing, it is very hard for them to raise the re­sources they need in or­der to com­pete,” he said.

He said a stronger part­ner­ship be­tween the DNC and state par­ties could have changed elec­tion out­comes in states such as Wis­con­sin, Penn­syl­va­nia and Michi­gan, which backed Mr. Trump.

“If we had more in­vest­ment in those state par­ties over the past four years, that could have made the dif­fer­ence in terms of the get-out-the-vote ef­forts,” he said.

Mr. Har­ri­son has a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from Yale and law de­gree from Ge­orge­town Univer­sity.

The head of the DNC has been in flux since July when Rep. Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz of Florida re­signed af­ter hacked emails showed fa­voritism for Hil­lary Clin­ton over Mr. San­ders in the pres­i­den­tial pri­mary race. Donna Brazile has since served as in­terim chair­woman.

“I am the only one in the race that has the un­der­stand­ing of how D.C. op­er­ates and the lead­ers there, but at the same time I have been op­er­a­tive on the front lines try­ing to re­build a party in a red state.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Jaime Har­ri­son, chair­man of the South Carolina Demo­cratic Party, is hop­ing to lead the party on a na­tional level. He said part of his plan is to in­vest more money in states that helped power Don­ald Trump to vic­tory.

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